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Go on, market yourself, but do it right.

Earlier this year, I attended a networking event featuring a self proclaimed "diva." In NYC everyone is a "diva," so this wasn’t a big deal to me. Nonetheless, I let me friend talk me into it for the sake of getting together with friends and because it was billed as a networking event. Besides the featured guest's book was about being genuinely happy. How can you run away from that one?

Even though I almost backed out at the last minute, I was truly looking forward to the event. It was held at one of my favorite hotel bars. The location combines sophistication with a touch of swank for a clean and modern aesthetic. Yes, I’m into interior design and food, so if you’ve got both, I’m there. :-)

So, on a very cold day, my group of friends arrived to this beautiful location.  First, the coat check lady greeted us. No friendly face confirming this was the correct event. Nope, just the coat check lady. Although, this isn't an anomaly in the NYC, I did expect complimentary coat check for a networking event that was marketing a product. In addition, I didn’t factor this into my Irish exit strategy. Sometimes, an event can be so painful, that you need to sneak out, thus the Irish exit. Coat checks can sometimes interfere with one’s ability to depart undetected.

In the spirit of what the heck, I decided to cooperate. I paid the fee and proceeded to enter a fairly empty room. The room itself was quite large and scattered throughout were groups of two or three ladies. I did notice a larger group of five talking amongst themselves at the very far end of the room, but had no idea that within that little circle sat the author hosting the event.

Well, my group found a comfy seat and checked out the menu to see how we could kick off the event.  It turns out the author and her team collaborated with the hotel to create a complimentary, signature cocktail. Great idea, but here's a general tip. Beware of a complimentary cocktail that happens to be a bright color. Yes they can be good, but they can also be bad. Very bad. I recommend taking a step back to observe the room and notice if others are enjoying said cocktail. Since I am a picky gal, I went for a non-alcoholic drink. Good call on my part! My friends started drinking and all of a sudden almost simultaneously, a look of horror flashed across their faces. I looked around the room and saw the same reaction among the other guests. Ekkk!  Let’s just say, I'm not sure if the author sampled the drink, but it looked like no one went past one sip of it.

After watching my friends eventually recover from their drink, I was determined to find the author hosting the event. It turns out she was sitting with the larger group I saw when I first entered the room. These folks were isolated from the rest of the guests. The book and promotional materials were scattered in front of the author, but were not located anywhere else in the room.

I picked up a pamphlet, which read like a teaser. It only gave me a vague glimpse of the author’s personality. I really felt unsatisfied. So, I found the author and asked if she planned on circulating around the room to chat with everyone and introduce herself. She said she would and planned on sharing some advice with the audience. I was amazed! Here was a new author, with no relationship with anyone in the room, except her friends who flanked the annoying cameraman, determining that she would speak at an appointed time. He was annoying because he would sneak around to take pictures and not ask for permission before doing so. However, he would speak if you noticed him, turned your back, and blocked his picture. ), There was no agenda to this event. I wouldn’t have known this author planned on speaking if I didn’t ask. Wow, after this, I was done.  I felt no desire to learn about this person or her book. The sad thing is, my attitude would have been different if the author made the effort to meet people around the room. Or if there were fun networking activities (after all it was a networking event), or if the audience know was told what was planned.


My goal in sharing this story is to provide tips; I’m calling them Ernisms, to help my readers. In this case, the Ernisms are about marketing yourself.

  • First, it is time U*Realized that when you market yourself as a brand, first impressions count for everything. Remember everything is representative of you - the location, ambiance, food, drinks, and everything else is important and ultimately reflective of your brand. So, even if you have limited means make sure you provide something that you would expect if you were attending an event.
  • Second, if you are hosting an event, make sure you reach out to people. Let them know what you’ve planned for the event. If you want them to want to learn more about you, you must make them comfortable. Allow them to meet you and see how dynamic you are. They will be more inclined to listen to your presentation later in the evening, if you’ve taken the time to meet them.   It might be hard if you have a large group, so be sure to bring some friends to help you canvas the room and make sure that everyone feels welcomed.
  • Third, be sure to have your cameraperson ask permission before taking pictures. It is proper etiquette to do so and people have a right to know where their pictures will be posted.
  • Fourth, if you have promotional materials with you, position them all over the space you hold your event, even if you have someone actively directing folks to come chat with you. Make sure the information you provide answers potential questions. Remember, your goal is to have people remember you. They might not purchase your product or service right then and there, but they will have with a positive impression of you. That positive impression opens the door for a nice follow-up message and keep the lines of communication opened.

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